In a first for the Russian Navy, an all-female navy crew carried out patrols on the Black Sea on Friday in preparation for Russiaâ€™s Navy Day celebrations later this month.
The crew, on board a patrol boat, fulfilled a broad array of drills on their maiden voyage, simulating how they would react to an incursion by saboteurs including by tossing RGD-5 hand grenades into the sea.
â€œI decided to become a member of the crew because itâ€™s very interesting,â€ said Olga Chelkova, a senior engine mechanic. â€œItâ€™s promising and, most of all, itâ€™s an experiment that women have never taken part in before.â€
The voyage marks a symbolic step in Russian womenâ€™s quest to play a more active role in the armed forces, an institution dominated by men.
The navy still holds barriers to entry for women. A decree signed by President Vladimir Putin in 2000 lists 456 jobs in 38 industries which women are barred from doing because they would entail â€œheavy work and work in harmful working conditionsâ€.
The role of captain is not on the list but seaman is, and serving a seamanâ€™s apprenticeship is standard practice for male cadets and a necessary step to take on a command role.
The Russian government plans next year to shorten the list of jobs women are barred from holding.